Home > Services > Injections > MRI Arthrography Injections

MRI arthrography involves the injection of contrast material into a joint prior to an MRI examination. The contrast material outlines the structures within the joint, helping the radiologist evaluate the anatomy of the joint. What are some common uses of the procedure? Arthrographic images help physicians evaluate alterations in structure and function of a joint and help to determine the possible need for treatment, including surgery or joint replacement. The procedure is also used to help diagnose persistent, unexplained joint pain or discomfort. The procedure is most often used to identify abnormalities within the: • shoulder • wrist • hip • knee • ankle What does the equipment look like? The equipment typically used for joint injections consists of a radiographic table, an x-ray tube and a television-like monitor that is located in the examining room or in a nearby room. When used for viewing images in real time (called fluoroscopy), the image intensifier (which converts x-rays into a video image) is suspended over a table on which the patient lies. When used for taking still pictures, the image is captured either electronically or on film. Other equipment necessary for performing arthrography include a variety of needles, syringes and a water-soluble contrast material. How is the procedure performed? The patient is positioned on the examination table and x-rays are taken of the joint to be compared later with the arthrograms. Next, the skin around the joint is cleansed with antiseptic and a local anesthetic is injected into the area. The area where the needle is to be inserted will be sterilized and covered with a surgical drape. A needle is then inserted into the joint space. The radiologist, a physician specifically trained to supervise and interpret radiology examinations, will use a syringe to drain the joint fluid, which may be sent to a laboratory for analysis.The contrast material and sometimes air are injected into the joint space and the needle is removed. The patient will be asked to move the affected joint to distribute the contrast material throughout the space. After the injection, you will be escorted to the MRI scanner. For information on how to prepare for this exam, click here.